The US defense department has awarded Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, a contract to build nine additional CH-53K heavy lift helicopters.
Sikorsky said it would be building the additional airframes at a lower unit price than previous lot buys, resulting in significant savings for the US government and taxpayers.
These nine helicopters are part of 200 aircraft program of record for the US Marine Corps with deliveries set to begin in 2025.
The aircraft will be built at Sikorsky headquarters in Stratford, Connecticut, leveraging the company’s digital build and advanced technology production processes.
The factory is active with seven CH-53K aircraft in build, and there are 47 more aircraft in various stages of production.
In total, Sikorsky has delivered five operational CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters to the US Marine Corps in Jacksonville, North Carolina, with four more planned for delivery this year.
“By embracing resilient, predictive logistics and sustainment, we are enabling CH-5K crews to make smarter, faster decisions, to increase reliability, and improve readiness and material availability at reduced burden to the fleet,” said Bill Falk, Sikorsky Director, CH-53K programs.
The CH-53K program entered initial operational test and evaluation in 2021 and is set to conclude in 2022.
As the evaluation progresses, the service has already started fielding the helicopter, with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 461 becoming the first in the US Marine Corps to transition to the new CH-53K King Stallion with a re-designation ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, on January 24.